The New World and the Old: Exploration 1400*1650

The Western Shift:
America and Europe
Exploration began with the exploitation of Africa and
Asia followed closely by the Americas.
First, the Portuguese began the Age of Exploration;
Second, the Spanish dominated the exploration of the
Americas early; followed by the French, then the
It is safe to say, that the English far excelled during and
after the Age of Exploration—mostly because of their
strong Maritime endeavors.
Though all were culpable the Spanish and the
English changed the economies, cultures and
political make up;
Destroyed native populations and civilizations;
Europeans gained vast stores of wealth,
colonization, and geographical advantage over
others competing nations.
It enlarged their Navies, economies, and
hegemony w/n the Americas and Africa.
Middle Ages ended, Renaissance Princes and
Kings became well-educated, ambitious and
ruthless (Machiavellian).
They became very powerful financially, lessened
the hold of the Church, separated themselves
from the aristocracy, and their subjects;
They needed money to do this—colonialism and
imperialism was their ticket to financial and
global independence.
Middle East—Spices, silk and cotton fabrics, and
medicines—also science and academic research.
Italian City-States had grown economically and
intellectually wealthy;
1453, things changed; Ottoman Empire conquered
Constantinople—to avoid extortion and taxes,
Europeans need a better way to get to the Eastern
The Portuguese sought a way around the Muslims
and the Italians; During King John I reign, his son
Prince Henry the Navigator began exploring down
the West Coast of Africa;
1419, he founded a naval college; he established
trading posts and markets in Africa; originally
looking for Prester John and a maritime path to the
1415, Portugal captured Cueta (Morocco) and
Explored the Madeira Islands, The azores (1427),
Cape Verde (1444), and Sierra Leone (1460);
established a Slave Fort at Elmina, Ghana (1482).
1488 Bartholomew rounded the Cape of Good
Hope; 1498 Vasco da Gama rounded the cape and
reached India—a very wealthy venture—now the
race was on.
It was not lost on Spain or England that little
Portugal based solely on trade had become a
Seafaring Empire.
Columbus laid the foundation for Spanish
power, the Pope enforced the Treaty of
Tordesillas in 1494. (370 miles East of Cape Verde
Portugal—west Spain).
15th Century Portugal a maritime dynamo—by
mid-16th century Spain supplanted Portugal.
Portugal expelled their Jews and Moors as did the
Spanish—this killed their intelligentsia and
Middle Class—as it would also do w/Spanish.
1536 Portuguese King introduced the Inquisition,
one the House of Aziz ended, the Spanish
literally walked in and gained hegemony in the
Thus began the “60 years captivity.”
Spain gained prominence w. unification of
Aragon and Castile.
Pope immediately gave Spain the right to all the
lands discovered by Columbus—
Spain realized it was not the West Indies, but a
far more lucrative and exotic place—Vasco de
Balboa discovered the Pacific Ocean (1513).
1519, Magellan realized the globe was larger than
first expected. (Herna’n Cortes conquered
Aztecs—1531 Pizarro conquered Incan Empire).
Disease killed millions—small pox, chicken pox,
measles, whooping cough, malaria, and bubonic
Native population decreased from perhaps 50-70
million in 1492 to 5 million by 1700.
Survivors were enslaved, relegated to peon
status, forced into conversion or suffered the fate
of the inquisition—some even intermarried
furthering the demise of certain civilizations—
Europeanization was deleterious to Americans.
As Native Population depleted, Spain began to
import African Slaves.
Eventually several millions were abducted and
sold into the New World;
Most went to the West Indies and South/Central
America; less than 4% came to the United States
of America.
14th century to the mid
17th century, the
numbers small.
18th—19th century
numbers around 50 to
100,000 per year.
38% Brazil
42% West Indies
Only 4% to British
North America
Most of the Slaves
came from Senegal,
Gambia early on;
Then Angola; Then
the so-called “Slave
Coast” in western
and then from the
“Gold Coast”
coastline of modern
European Slave Traders were not in the habit of
capturing their victims.
They relied solely on African Slave Traders—it
was cheaper and less dangerous. Africans already
had well functioning and well established slave
markets—Europeans just deepened preexisting
markets and trade networks.
Local African Chieftains for a price(lease)
allowed European slave merchants to construct
forts on their coast line for the sole purpose of
slave commodities.
African Rulers sent
envoys to European
courts soliciting and
marketing the slave trade.
Simply, the Europeans
neither created the
market, dominated the
market, nor did they
dictate the rules of
engagement of the slave
trade—but all concerned
surely profited from it.
Most were victims of tribal and nationalist
At one time we thought there were slave wars—
but after years of research, we find that there
was huge African initiatives to make money,
gain European technology and the Chieftain
could rid himself of pesky traditional enemies.
Intellectually the European World view was
challenged; The Bible had not mentioned the
New World;
Civilizations and cultures living peaceably,
politically, and socially w/o ever hearing about
Christ; Or a part of the Great Chain of being;
what did this mean? Rethink God in the world.
Materially, Exploration was—making Spain very
Unintended consequence, created huge financial
inflation, drove prices skyward, made the poor
even more poor and created a huge chasm
between the rich and the poor; Seville merchants
got rich; destabilized the European economy;
Essentially there was no more Middle Class; It
helped finance wars of religion.
Each were too late to reap the monetary and Gold
rewards of the New world;
French began to explore, Canada, Upper Mid
West and Mississippi Valley; no gold, but maybe
Jesuits established numerous missions; helped
establish France in the middle of the Fur and
trapping market and the Grand Banks Fishing
Venture—create issues w/ English later.
France did not foster dissent colonization
By the Late 17th century France tried to exploit the
wealth of the Fur Trade using Mercantilist
France did use a more liberal form of tolerance
with the native peoples.
The English ignored the New World until
Elizabeth I’s reign.
Privateers, ie Raleigh, Drake, and Frobisher
feasted off Spanish galleons along the Spanish
John Hawkins interposed into the Slave Trade in
1560s and actually created a covert War bx Spain
and England—(asiento)
The Lost Colony of Roanoke 1585 (1st attempt @
English colonization).
Jamestown 1607; mine Gold, but quickly became
a Joint Venture capital based off a consumerable
cash crop—Tobacco; Rice, later cotton.
King James wrote a scathing indictment against
tobacco; bad for ones health and it smelled bad.
1619, slavery introduced into North America
Viable familial colonization began with the
Congregationalists in 1620—Chartered
Massachusetts Bay Colony 1629. (Boston).
Massachusetts allowed for self-government,
introduced the first contractual agreement
concerning popular government.
They came as family units prepared to settle for
longevity—the land and the freedom was their
value, not gold or silver. (freedom according to
Puritan interpretation)
Mostly a refuge for those who could not conform
to the Church of England.
England found very little military and limited
commercial value in the beginning; however, the
big exception was to use America as a safety
valve for dissenters, the disaffected and the
Did find value eventually in developing other
markets such as wool, rice, indigo, shipping and
Fishing; Naval Stores and much raw material;
Modernized the banking system in England—
Lloyds of London established etc …
Became the great trading nation of the 17th
century; established the Dutch East India
Company in 1602; West East India Co. in 1621.
Granted full independence from Spain in the
Treaty of Munster in 1648—part of the Treaty of
Dutch founded a very tolerant Republic;
legislated themselves popularly with the StatesGeneral w/ Executive Officer (Stadholder).
Dutch a little too tolerant—Portuguese drove the
Dutch from Brazil in 1654, they also lost New
Amsterdam to the English in 1664 (New York);
The Holy Roman Empire though embroiled in
European religious wars, never ventured into the
colonization market, or major overseas trading
ventures—too land locked and European;
Lack of attempting imperialism had far-reaching
effects in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for
the German nation—imperial poverty,
powerlessness, and Protestantism, eventually
spelled doom for the Holy Roman Empire

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